KATHMANDU: The crowd at Aryaghat in Pashupatinath makes one forget there is a restriction on mass gathering and mass movement amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Ram Yadav of Balaju spent his whole day waiting for the turn for the funeral pyre of the body he had taken to Pashupati at 11 am.
He returned home only at 7 pm. He had gone to attend the funeral ceremony of one of his neighbors.
“It was 7 pm in the evening when I returned from Pashupati. Had we got our turn on time, we could have returned from there before 4 PM,” Yadav narrated, “We never waited for the turn so long in the past.”
Anish Mahat, who had reached Aryaghat taking part in a funeral ceremony, did not fare anything better. He waited hours before the dead body he had taken to the sacred ghat got a chance to be placed on the pyre.
Aryaghat, which used to lie deserted with very few people staring at the places meant for the pyre, is now full of people most of the time. The people who take the dead body for the last rituals over there have to wait for hours for their turn.
The government has directed people to abstain from the crowd or maintain social distancing mandatorily as the negligence in such issue can result in the widespread of the pandemic.
Aryaghat that used to see a handful of dead bodies sometimes gets more than 40 corpses every day these days.
“There is no situation like that in lockdown, it’s like normal,” Pradeep Dhakal, the General Secretary of Pashupati Area Development Trust told Khabarhub, “The pressure in Aryaghat is as in the normal days.”
1800 corpses in four months
The lockdown that was enforced to curb the wide-spreading coronavirus pandemic on March 24 was formally ended on July 21.
According to Kumar Thapa, the in-charge of Pashupati Ghat Service, Aryaghat witnessed the last rituals of around 1800 dead bodies during the lockdown. This is nearly 15 bodies per day.
However, the area has seen the last rituals of 2500 dead people in the month of Aswin (Sept 17- Oct 16) and Kartik (Oct 17- Nov. 15). This means 41 rituals on average every day.
“Prior to lockdown in March, 40 dead bodies in Aryaghat and 20 in the electric crematorium used to get the last rituals every day,” he said, “The rituals here have resumed as in the time before lockdown now.”
With the increase in the last rituals in Aryaghat, the people’s presence in the ghat has also increased alarmingly. The growing crowd has further increased the possibility of transmission.
Not all ghats are in operation
There are ten ghats, the places meant to place the dead body and prepare the pyre, in Aryaght out of which only eight are in use.
As the people who go there with the dead body have to wait for such places, the crowd of the people waiting for the rituals has also increased. What’s more, most of the people who join the funeral procession are seen as reluctant to abide by health safety guidelines.
PADT has requested all to minimize the number of participants in the funeral procession.
General Secretary Dhakal requests all to minimize the number of participants as far as possible and pay attention to social distancing and wearing masks mandatorily.
On its part, the PADT is working on opening all ghats for use soon.
After the coronavirus death toll was noticed in the valley, the electric crematorium is used only for those who died of COVID-19.